What are some Factors that Affect the Intelligence of a Child

In 1939, David Wechsler defined intelligence as “the global capacity of a person to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment.”

Alfred Binet, along with a colleague Theodore Simon, developed the first IQ test to determine which French students would be more likely to need special assistance in acquiring an education. Called the Binet-Simon Scale, the test is still widely used in school today(2011). Binet understood the limitations of finding the intelligence of a person through one test. The test was brought to the United States, where Stanford University psychologist Lewis Stanford Standardized the test now called the The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale.

The score of the Stanford-Binet was found by dividing the mental age of a child by his chronological age, then multiplying the answer by 100. For example, an eight-year-old child with the mental age of a ten-year-old child would have an IQ of 125. In 1955, Mr. Wechsler developed and published his own IQ test. The WAIS-III was scored by comparing the test score of one child to the scores of others in the same age group. The average score is 100, with 85 to 115 being the normal range. See WAIS-IV scoring explained.

Psychologists agree that both genetics and environmental factors affect the intelligence of a child. Genetically, the factors begin with any defect on the chromosomes of the parents. Downs Syndrome and Fragile X are examples of inherited genes that affect intelligence. Not only is the potential intelligence passed to children through family DNA, environmental factors affecting the father and mother before conception affect the potential intelligence of the newborn.

Men and women who abuse alcohol and drugs do not consider the damage done to semen and eggs. If the mother continues to abuse substances once she becomes pregnant, every alcoholic drink and every drug abused is shared with the fetus in the womb. Particularly, the first three months of pregnancy are vital to the development of the unborn.

Doctors disagree on whether or not too much caffeine is harmful to a developing brain in the womb. It is suggested that pregnant women limit their intake of coffee, tea with caffeine and sodas. At any rate, any woman trying to get pregnant or is pregnant, should consult her doctor concerning every day diet and prescribed medications, as well as over-the-counter medicines. Some antidepressants have been found to cause birth defects, including delayed learning.

The more a parent talks to a baby while holding her and interacting with her, the earlier she will begin to talk and communicate her needs and desires. This triggers a positive response in a parent, making them desire more interaction with the baby. Toddlers who are read to while sitting in a parent’s lap and looking at the pages being read, even touching the pages of the book, will learn to read more easily and at a younger age. This is a nurture or environmental factor that affects intelligence.

Parents can be the biggest players in environmental factors that affect intelligence. The baby who is never talked to, never read to, and is held only when necessary, will be slow to learn. Children born with the ability for average intelligence can later become mentally or emotionally retarded due to physical, mental and emotional neglect.

Before any baby can begin to learn, his basic needs must first be met. A child needs food to grow and to nourish the brain. He needs to feel secure in his surroundings and he needs comfort and reassurance from the people who care for him. When a child has these things, she is free to explore the world around her through touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste. The more a child is exposed to, the more she will learn. Parents or caregivers and the things they do or don’t do for and with their children will definitely be a factor in their intelligence.

Healthy, nutritious food is vital for a growing brain. Mother’s milk is loaded with all the proper nutrition necessary for strong bones, healthy immune systems and a brain capable of retaining information.

“A learning disability is not something that can be outgrown or that is “cured” by medication, therapy, or expert tutoring. So, early recognition of warning signs, well-targeted screening and assessment, effective intervention, and ongoing monitoring of progress are critical to helping individuals with LD to succeed in school, in the workplace, and in life,” according to National Center for Learning Disabilities. Click this link for a checklist to help determine if a child may have a learning disability.

What are the factors that affect intelligence? Genetics, the environment a child is raised in, severe head injuries, lack of oxygen during birth, premature birth, and opportunities for learning or the lack of opportunities, are all factors that affect intelligence. There are cases of perfectly normal babies who digress in abilities following an illness or a disease, such as Rhett’s Syndrome or from the onset of autism

Environmental factors that include location, air quality, high levels of heavy metals such as lead or mercury, food poisoning and radiation can have a negative effect on intelligence. Genetic factors that negatively affect intelligence include Downs Syndrome, Fragile X, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and conditions caused by pregnant women contracting certain illnesses such as measles.

It is possible to work with a child with mental retardation, raising his IQ by as much as 10 to 12 points. When parents refuse to give up, children are always winners.

A study conducted in China on 857 children came to this conclusion in September, 1999: “Intelligence development in children was affected by a lot of factors, and good acquired environmental factors, especially their early nutrition, family background and education, would benefit for their intelligent development and improvement of their intelligent ability in children.

Psychologists Salovey & Mayer on emotional intelligence: “We define emotional intelligence as the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”
-From “Emotional Intelligence,” 1990

Some people have high intelligence quotients, but never use the abilities, talents and skills to accomplish anything. Some people with average intelligence are overachievers. They are willing to work harder to achieve a goal in life. People with learning disabilities often develop an inherited skill or ability and do quite well for themselves in life.

There are many factors that affect intelligence, but what a person does with what he has will ultimately define him.